There are also a few other more specialized services accountants can provide.
Reviews are less detailed than audits. For a review, your accountant will determine whether the financial statements fairly represent the company's financial status.
Reviews, which are smaller in scope than an audit and therefore less expensive, are usually done on a quarterly basis for public companies since it is not required that public companies have quarterly figures audited.
Unlike the more critical evaluation of an audit, however, that actually tests the details documented, reviews simply touch upon the reasonableness of the statements and offer a limited opinion.
Compilations are even less detailed than reviews, and they don't involve any opinion on the part of the accountant. For a compilation, your accountant will simply take the financial general ledger and create financial statements from it.
Business consulting is one of the more specialized services, so the rate or fee may reflect that.
If you're exploring a specific aspect of your business, for example looking to cut costs and improve your profit and loss statement, it's a good idea to look for an accountant who not only has experience in business consulting but one who is also familiar with your industry and market.
Business valuation is also a specialized kind of service, so as with consulting, you can expect the costs to go up.
Business owners might want a business valuation if they are looking to sell the company or if they want to do some estate planning. Business valuations are also useful when applying for a loan.
In any case, you'll want to find an accountant who has experience dealing with companies in your industry and market. An accountant with this kind of background will have more insight into your particular situation than one who is just stepping in with no frame of reference to draw from.
Financial planning has really taken off in the past five to 10 years for accountants. This service turns the focus from the business to the business owner. The need for financial planning becomes more pressing when a business owner starts to look at long-term care insurance, wills and trusts, and estate planning.
For instance, if one wants to pass the business on to his or her family, an accountant could suggest ways of doing so without having the family hit by a huge tax burden.